Born in Johannesburg, RSA, to an artistic South African – German couple, Khwezi Becker has had quite a colourful and multicultural upbringing. Fluent in English, German and Zulu, her ability to use language has been nurtured from an early age. Having taken her first steps on stage it was almost inevitable that some years later she would be drawn into the arts. Becker first acted in a children’s television show called “Creature Club” in about 2006 on National television at the age of 10. She continued to participate in drama performances throughout her high school career in Durban and made the decision to study Drama and Performance Studies in 2015 at the University of KwaZulu Natal. She acquired her Bachelor of Arts in 2017 as well as her Honours in Drama and Performance Studies (cum laude) in 2018 at the institution.
Becker performed in Themi Venturas’s student theatre production of De Compleat Hstry of Dbn at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and in Chuma Mapoma’s Womyn at the Olive Tree Theatre in Johannesburg, both in 2015. She further worked with Themi Venturas under his company, Themi Venturas Productions, as a Master of Ceremonies at the ACCORD Peace Awards at the Durban ICC in 2015 and The Denis Hurley Centenary Celebration at the Denis Hurley Centre in 2015. She was once again Master of ceremonies at The Spirit of Light Celebration under Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Foundation at the Durban ICC in 2016. In July of 2017 Becker was invited to run drama workshops for matric students at the Grahamstown National Schools Festival. 2018 saw her returning to the Festival in a theatre production by Stephanie Jenkins called Hudson and Watson as well as having written poetry for a Gold Ovation Award winning piece called Sullied by Kristi Gresse. In early 2019, she travelled to Germany for a theatre internship at the Braunschweig State Theatre as an assistant director on a Bertolt Brecht play adaptation.
Becker began to explore her writing capabilities through poetry which she has since performed at events such as the Playhouse Sundowners in 2017, 2018 and 2019, as well as Poet in a Suit in 2018. She has been invited to host the Poetry Africa Festival in 2018 and 2019 and performed her own poetry in the 2020 online version of the festival in a line-up that included the likes of Nikki Giovanni. Some of her poetry being written for the feminist movement and in protest to the gender-based violence happening in society today, she was also invited to speak on a panel about gender-based violence at the Playhouse theatre in 2018. She then performed her poetry at the Funda Fest 2020 in Rhode Island USA and was asked to adapt a poem by the great Langston Hughes into her mother tongues, at the 25th Annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Rhode Island.
Since, Becker wrote a theatre production called When Coasts Meet about the experience as a mixed-race woman navigating identity in a world that is drawn to binaries and does not acknowledge those occupying the in between space. It was the adapted and co-created along with Nomcebisi Moyikwa, an afrosurrealist arts practitioner, into a one-woman show that was taken to the National Arts Festival in June 2019, The production won a Fringe Ovation Award there for best solo performance. She continues to explore her acting skill on screen in a film called Emzansi in Orania, for which she was nominated for a Best Newcomer Award at the Simon Sabela Film and Television Award in 2020. Becker hopes to open dialogues about this claiming of our in-betweenity as human beings through her work, rather than seeing this space as a negative or irrelevant part of who we are. Perhaps the grey areas can open us up to different shades and textures that connect us as people or open up curiosity rather than setting defining lines to categorise us and focus on our difference; seeing ourselves as citizens of the world.
Becker’s work has a great focus on claiming the in-between space as a mixed race and transnational woman who has grown up between Europe and South Africa. “I feel that a claiming of this experience needs to be expressed more in the artistic world as there is a lack of representation of people who have been raised to acknowledge their many selves, histories, languages and cultures. We are the proof that colour lines and all other kinds of binaries are constructs and are a celebration of difference and similarity rather than the discomfort of it. We are also proof that all narratives matter, make up who we are and must continue to be told boldly and reimagined each time.” – Nomakhwezi Becker.
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